The Words of the Senaratne Family

Religious Youth Service Project Planned in Northwest Sri Lanka

Chula Senaratne
November 6, 2012
RYS -- Sri Lanka

Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka -- In the Puttlam district of northwest Sri Lanka are living many Muslims who were displaced during the country's decade-long civil war, and RYS-Sri Lanka is inviting local and international youth to help build a community center in the district's coastal town of Kalpitiya December 14 to 20.

The village needs a community center to hold youth meetings and women's programs, promote the well being of the villagers, and as a setting for funerals. Similar to the 2011 project, RYS volunteers will help begin construction; government and non-government organizations will continue the work.

Kalpiytiya is about 200 km from capital city of Colombo. Its population of around 86,000 includes 54% Muslims, 31% Sinhalese, 13% Tamils, and 2% others. Ten participants are being recruited from northeastern Sri Lanka, where the majority of the population are Tamils, to be joined by 15 Sinhalese youth from other parts of the nation and five international youth. In addition to construction work, the schedule will include training in leadership development.

The more than three decades of ethnic conflict in northeastern Sri Lanka grew out of differences between these ethnic groups. After the harsh civil war ended in 2009, the government's main focus was to resettle internally displaced people and rehabilitate the combatants. Now harmony needs to be cultivated among the different ethnic communities that will promote sustainable development. The Kalpitiya community center can serve as a setting for many activities that can benefit the diverse population that includes people with long roots in the area as well as the recent arrivals.

The main income in this coastal area is from fishing, growing rice, and cultivating vegetables. The average daily income of a family is around US$7.00. The livelihood depends on weather patterns, which affect fishing as well as agriculture. Kalpitiya is also a tourist destination due to its scenic beauty. Since it is along Puttlam Bay, there are opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, sea cruises, and dolphin watching. The Norochcholai coal plant is also nearby.

Project partners and sponsors include:

Tharunyata Hetak Youth Organization

Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare Hon. Felix Perera and the Ministry

Deputy Minister of External Affairs Hon. Neomal Perera

Hon. Arundika Fernando, Member of Parliament for Puttlam District

Mr. R.A. Kularatne, Retired Deputy Director of Education

Since 1992, Religious Youth Service projects in Sri Lanka have been promoting inter-religious and intercultural understanding and respect, and facilitating better communication among the people of different parts of the nation, even during the civil war. While helping to meet a tangible need in the community, participants working with local people will have the opportunity to model the inter-religious respect and cooperation that can help heal the wounds of war.

For more information contact Dr. Chula Senaratne, Secretary General, UPF-Sri Lanka 

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